Bourgeois Pig We (and DePaul students) come here for the Hobbit, a triple-decker BLT on sourdough with sun-dried–tomato pesto, mayo, bacon, avocado and alfalfa sprouts, but end up staying for the homemade apple dumplings and fine selection of teas. There’s plenty of people-watching at this quirky Lincoln Park standby, too, though if you’re feeling antisocial, order that Old Man and the Sea tuna sandwich bike-delivered. 738 W Fullerton Ave (773-883-5282). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Fullerton. Bus: 8, 11, 74. Mon–Sat 7am–10pm; Sun 8am–10pm. Average main course: $7.
DarkCloud: Urban Coffee Lab More like watching a science experiment than stopping into your neighborhood café, the process of getting a cup of coffee at Andy Atkinson’s new shop is a marathon of measuring, weighing, pouring, stirring and timing. Coffee fiends will want to drop in to taste the supremely subtle, nuanced results of the Siphon—a two-chamber glass implement that brews coffee via heat-powered vacuum—or to shoot back an espresso from the city’s first Slayer machine. Minimalist fiends, on the other hand, can feast on the interior, which is not much more than a few modern chairs and yellow tables. 2122 N Halsted St (773-857-2449). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Fullerton. Bus: 8, 11, 74. Mon–Thu 7am–8pm; Fri 7am–9pm; Sat 8am–10pm; Sun 8am–7pm. Average cup of coffee: $3.
Floriole Cafe & Bakery During her years hawking French pastries at the farmers’ markets, chef Sandra Holl developed a passionate following of superfans. Those fans are no doubt thrilled with this permanent bakery space, as is anybody else who wanders in, since these are, hands down, the best croissants in the city. Superb cakes, dreamy cream puffs, sophisticated (yet also rustic) sandwiches and insane brownies make this bakery a crucial player in Chicago’s culinary scene. Evening hours bring opportunity to enjoy Holl’s creations while sipping on wine and beer. 1220 W Webster Ave (773-883-1313). El: Brown, Purple (rush hrs), Red to Fullerton; Brown, Purple (rush hrs) to Armitage. Bus: 73, 74. Tue–Fri 7am–5:30pm; Sat 8am–5:30pm; Sun 8am–4pm (closed Mon). Average baked good: $4.
Nada Tea & Coffee House Free Wi-Fi and friendly service only add to the zen atmosphere patrons of this Japanese teahouse can expect. A steaming pot of pine needle tea and a surprisingly affordable selection of sweets and sandwiches make up for somewhat uncomfortable benches and an often-empty seating area. 1552 W Fullerton Ave (773-529-2239). Bus: 9; 74. Mon–Fri 7:30am–5pm; Sat 9am–5pm. Average sandwich: $5.